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In Southern California, Greens Find Fertile Turf

June 27, 1989|CONNIE KOENENN | Times Staff Writer

Slowly but surely, Los Angeles may be turning green.

The Green Movement, which began taking root here four years ago, has in the past year experienced what regional outreach coordinator Mindy Lorenz describes as a "surge of growth."

"It's undeniable. It's what I've been waiting for personally (for) the 4 1/2 years I've been working for the Greens," said Lorenz, of El Rio, who organizes Committees of Correspondence (the Green term for local groups).

7 Regional Groups

"We used to have to go beat the bushes, and now people know who we are. . . . We are being asked to provide speakers to church groups and community groups. The Greens are definitely on the map." With seven regional groups now operating, and four more preparing to organize, Lorenz estimated that "several hundred" people are participating, as active or supporting members, in Green activity in the Ventura-Los Angeles-Orange County area.

Despite the sharp upswing in activity, however, the movement remains in a fledgling stage in Southern California, where it has had only a short history and most groups are still finding an identity, interviews indicate.

Bob Spivey, a Long Beach City College staffer who has worked with the Greens for four years, said: "I think people have a sense of expecting the Greens to be a blitzkrieg or something. It isn't. Grass-roots growth is slow but steady."

In Southern California, as elsewhere, each group applies to a national "clearinghouse" in Kansas City, Mo., for membership. Each group then sets its own agenda and structure, preferring informal organizations with rotating leadership. A typical local committee consists of 10 to 25 members (the latter considered maximum), meeting monthly or bimonthly, usually in private homes. Most action agendas are still being formulated.

The present picture:

South Bay/Harbor Greens: Organized in January, 1988, the group combines monthly discussion meetings with social action. At last fall's Wincon conference (Winter Conference of Military and Industrial Contractors), members presented street theater in South Gate Plaza to protest links they perceived between military spending and neglect of human services and the destruction of the environment. The group is promoting recycling and community gardens through neighborhood associations in Long Beach.

Westside Greens: Formed in the spring of 1988, the group has recently shifted emphasis from philosophical debate to action. A monthly public forum series presents Green speakers (among them writer-scholars like Murray Bookchin and Fritjof Capra) and topical issues from a Green perspective, including a panel on women's reproductive rights and John Robbins, author of "Diet for a New America." A $3 donation is charged for the forums, which attract an average audience of 225 and also offer petition signings (Save our Beach) and environmental literature tables. Westside has joined with the Coalition to Oppose Offshore Oil Drilling, and members attend the Los Angeles recycling plan hearings, and the Remaking Los Angeles ongoing conferences. The group hopes to run candidates for local office.

San Fernando Greens: Organized in January. Monthly meetings have subdivided into working groups: education, political and administrative. With an emphasis on building membership, members also focus on community activism. They publish a newsletter and plan to support candidates who are environmentally minded.

Coyote Creek Greens: Formed in January, 1987, they ran the state's first Green candidate, Ed Evans, in a losing race for state Senate in Democratic 33rd District. Besides electoral politics, they concentrate on outreach, demonstrate with various environmental organizations including Greenpeace, Earth Island Institute and Earth First, and support the United Farm Workers' grape boycott.

Santiago Creek Greens: Formed in June with environmental agenda including studies of Environmental Impact Reports for transportation corridors planned for Orange County, waste water questions and growth problems. (The Santiago group grew from a February meeting at the Tustin Public Library. Also from that meeting, three other groups are being formed on a bio-regional basis, the Huntington Beach area, South Orange County and the Backbay Watershed Greens.)

Inner City Greens: Formed this month to link activist members from Highland Park to South-Central Los Angeles, this group is concentrating on preservation of existing affordable housing, working toward a city recycling program that would be decentralized and neighborhood based, and working with Earth First on environmental issues.

Ventura Greens: Formed two years ago, the group--which also hopes to attract interest from the areas of Ojai, Ventura, Oxnard and Camarillo--is being reactivated with a meeting scheduled at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Ventura High School. Interests range from farm worker causes and animal rights to Central America political issues.

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